Habs land in slammer

JONATHAN BERNIER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Ryan O'Byrne will remember his rookie dinner for a long time. It's an evening that will turn out to be quite costly.

Not only did he, along with other Montreal Canadiens rookies, have to pay the cheque for that expensive traditional dinner, which is seen as a symbol of initiation, but he also had to pay $2000 US to get out of the Hillsborough county jail where he and Tom Kostopoulos spent the night.

According to the report issues by the Tampa police, the Canadien defenceman stole a client's purse at the Whiskey Park Soho, a nightclub selected by several Habs players to conclude an evening that had started in another establishment.

"Just moments after putting her purse on the counter, the complainant noticed it had disappeared," the report says. Upon stepping outside, security agents saw O'Byrne holding the purse in one hand and the victim's cell phone in the other."

The rookie, who had just been recalled from Hamilton, tried to defend himself by telling the police officers already on site that the item belonged to his girlfriend. However an important detail was missing from his defence.

"When the officers asked him the name of the woman, he could not provide an answer," said Andrea Davis, of the Tampa Police Department.

Meanwhile the victim, Morgan J. Day, 33, insisted she had never met O'Byrne before.

At the time of the arrest, a few of the rookie's teammates tried to intervene.

"The officers issued several warnings, ordering them to get away from the car. They all did, except for Kostopoulos," Davis said.

The police then ordered the player to join his Canadien teammate in the back seat of the car. He was freed after posting $500 bail.

O'Byrne is being charged with felony grand theft, 3rd degree ($500-$3000). Kostopoulos faces a count of resisting an officer.

"This kind of charge usually does not prevent the individual from leaving the country or coming back," Davis said, hinting that Kostopoulos and O'Byrne could finish the season without any problems.

"At this point, there's no action being taken by the team," Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey said.

"The situation is under the umbrella of the legal system here, and the players will have to move forward whatever the ramifications for their actions or what the situation calls for."


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